Arsenal are leading the race to sign Lille forward Nicolas Pepe, according to L’Equipe, via the Mirror.

The £45million-rated wide man is one of Ligue 1’s most exciting prospects, after a superb start to the season.

He has been linked with a number of top clubs following his scintillating run of form, with Arsenal one of those hotly-tipped to make a move for him.

Lille are thought to be open to the idea of selling arguably their most prized asset, although a January exit is not being considered.

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Arsenal are, therefore, likely to have to agree a deal in advance, if they are to get their man.

Pepe has 12 goals and six assists already this season, with Lille sitting second in Ligue 1.

A wonderful solo effort against Nimes at the weekend summed up why he is rated so highly by many and he would be a great addition to Arsenal’s attack.

The 23-year-old also has three goals in eight appearances for the Ivory Coast, outlining his international pedigree.